After originally attempting to run the race on New Year’s Day, Aqueduct was finally able to card and run the Jerome on January 13th. Firenze Fire, who won the Sanford and Champagne last year, was the short-priced winner for trainer Jason Servis.
Fractions: 25.01, 50.81, 1:16.72, 1:42.88
Race Flow: Very slow pace
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 85 (downgraded from 90)
Pace Note: The Aqueduct track was very slow on Saturday (just look at the final time for the one-mile Jerome). The fractions set by Seven Trumpets are not as slow as they look on paper, but make no mistake, that was a slow pace and if he was a major contender going forward, he would have won that race.
On The Winner: Firenze Fire ran a very nice race. He was taken back by Paco Lopez, which hurt him as Seven Trumpets walked on the lead. Firenze Fire had to move wide from the back of the pack and after coming wide into the lane, he was straightened out and ran down the leader. He has a very strong kick in one-turn races and didn’t run especially well in the two-turn Breeders Cup Juvenile. He was reportedly sick before the Breeders Cup last year, so you can probably forgive that race, but even so, he does feel like a horse that will be better going one-turn as a late-runner than he does as as Derby horse.
On The Others: Seven Trumpets had every chance to win this race. He set a very slow pace and was simply out-finished. He’s one to oppose in his next start. We weren’t big fans of Coltandmississippi coming into this race but he got a curious ride. He broke better than Seven Trumpets but was wrangled back off the slow pace and he was never really in good position thereafter. He had a mild late run without threatening and you shouldn’t totally dismiss him off this race next time (though again, we weren’t sure how good he was to begin with). Factor This, who was our longshot use underneath the winner, came from the back into position but had little in the lane.
What’s Next: Aqueduct runs the Withers on February 3rd before a five-week gap to the Gotham on March 10th and the Wood Memorial on April 7th. The Withers is at a mile-and-an-eighth while the Gotham is back at a one-turn mile before they stretch back out to nine furlongs in the Wood.
Firenze Fire is skipping the Withers for the Gotham and we’re curious to see who ends up in the Withers. Remember, because this race was delayed 12 days, it was run just three weeks before the Withers. Between the timing and the nine furlong distance (it’s a little early for trainers to typically stretch out to nine furlongs), the composition of that field will be interesting. Steve Asmussen said he wanted to see Lecomte fourth-place finisher Zing Zang stretch out and I wonder if the Withers could be an option for that horse.